RENEW and Draktsho are the beneficiaries of this assistance for grassroots projects

Contracts: Japan’s ambassador to Bhutan, Takeshi Yagi, signed grant contracts with two non-governmental organisations (NGO) in the country, RENEW and Draktsho, yesterday.  Both projects are under Japan’s grant assistance for grassroots projects (GGP), which provides funds for relatively small projects that directly benefit local communities at the grassroots level.

This is the first time that the Japanese government is assisting an NGO in Bhutan.  Ambassador Yagi told Kuensel that, before they could not find NGOs that offered excellent contributions for the development of Bhutan and its people.  Now that there are organisations, such as Draktsho and RENEW, the government is pleased to assist them. “This will open a new chapter in the history of Japan’s cooperation with Bhutan,” he said.

In the morning, Ambassador Yagi and RENEW executive director, Chimi Wangmo, attended a ceremony at RENEW’s headquarter in Thimphu. To empower economically and socially vulnerable women in the country, the NGO will receive a grant for the construction of a vocational training centre in Wangsisina, Thimphu.  The vocational centre will have facilities for weaving, tailoring, and knitting, as well as other arts and crafts in a large scale.

Ambassador Yagi said the construction of the vocational training centre would provide women, who seek refugee from domestic violence and other duress, opportunities to expand their vocational training skills.

RENEW’s director of counselling department, Tshering Dolkar, said the vocational centre would help to expand the organisation’s services to empower women, who need help, and reintegrate them back into the mainstream society as productive citizens.

“This generosity of the Japanese government will go a long way in helping women to strive for economic independence and contribute towards positive mental well-being of our communities and families,” said Tshering Dolkar.

Currently, there are eight women in the RENEW shelter house.  The construction is to complete within a year after the grant is received.

In the afternoon, ambassador Yagi and the executive director of Draktsho, Jigme Wangmo, signed a grant contract for the project to construct a vocational training centre and two hostels for children and youth with disabilities in Kanglung, Trashigang.

The grant money of USD 84,203 will support Draktsho-East, an extension of Draktsho in Trashigang, with new infrastructure for the disabled children.

Jigme Wangmo said that the old building at Rongthong in Kanglung was not “purpose-built” to suit the needs of the children with different disabilities.  The hostels could not accommodate the activities and services offered by Draktsho.  The organisation approached the embassy of Japan to help them with some grant in 2012 because of the lack of space at Rongthong.

Once the project is completed, the new infrastructure is expected to accommodate more than 200 students.  The premises will also be the first to have wheelchair-bound facilities.

Meanwhile, Draktsho is in collaboration with a Japanese NGO, Bussi-en Group, that also supports disabled people.  The NGO has an office in Thimphu and associates with other NGOs in Bhutan, such as Disabled Person’s Association of Bhutan, Ability Bhutan Society and Tarayana Foundation.

By Dechen Tshomo and Younten Tshedup